BLOG | Stefanie Arjona
Learning the Course to Law School with my Family
July 2, 2019
Throughout my entire academic life, my family has served as a huge motivation to keep moving forward. I come from a family from which both of my parents did not receive a high school diploma, let alone obtain a college education. For my siblings and I, college was never an option; rather, college was a must, yet it seemed so far away until last fall. Last fall, my family and I embarked on the daunting journey that is navigating college for the first time. Even though my family is aware that I want to pursue law school, they did not have the clearest idea of what that entailed, and to be honest, neither did I. Through Law School...Sí Se Puede, my family and I have obtained a better understanding of my aspirations, enabling my family to be more supportive than ever before.
Back in August, my father accompanied me to the Law School...Sí Se Puede Kick-Off event during which Judge Arguello and former Lt. Governor, Joe Garcia, told their stories regarding their road to success. I was truly amazed at the number of people who attended the Kick-Off event since they were all there in support of myself and the rest of the 2016 Fellows. Afterward, my father expressed how overwhelmed he was by the enormous amount of encouragement that everyone exhibited at the event. He could not believe that so many others were more than willing to demonstrate their solidarity to helping young people, like me, achieve their dreams of becoming a lawyer. He was eager to find out when the next LSSSP meeting was in order to continue gaining insight into the law profession.
As my first year of college has progressed, my family has done everything in their power to avoid that I miss any LSSSP workshop or any meeting with my mentors. With the workshops, I have taught my family about the importance of networking, knowing my learning style and personality type, and applying for internships. Most recently, my family met with my mentors for the first time. After hearing some law school memories of my mentors, my family has gained a better sense of some of the challenges I might endure in law school. This meeting also made them more excited for me to become a lawyer because they are confident that I have knowledgeable people supporting me every step of the way in the same manner that they wish to support me with my career.
My involvement in Law School...Sí Se Puede has allowed for my family to better understand my dream of attending law school. My family and I recognize that getting to law school will not be an easy task, and we are not quite entirely sure of everything I need to do to get there. However, my family is absolutely sure that this program was the best choice I could have made in order to prepare me in a way that they cannot.
The Truth about the LSAT
July 2, 2019
As I near the end of my third year in Law School Yes We Can (LSYWC), I have realized that this program will not just be helpful in my future career goals, but it is already helpful in my current education at the University of Denver. By attending LSYWC workshops, I have learned more about standardized testing and the unequal way that these exams affect low-income students of color, like myself.
One of the first LSYWC workshops I attended this year focused on the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. LSYWC Board Member Eliseo Puig went through the basic facts of the LSAT. He explained the length of the test, the number of sections we would have to take, and the type of questions we may encounter. Eliseo then broke down how LSAT scores get taken into consideration for admissions decisions. The ugly reality is that the LSAT score makes up the largest percentage of that decision, meaning that it was essential that we do really well on this exam. Winter Torres, a former LSYWC board member, chimed into the conversation and explained that, as low-income students of color, this might not be the easiest task for us because the test obliquely favors students that have the means and resources to afford LSAT prep books and prep courses. Winter added that the students who had those means probably received a higher quality education that had prepared them to do well on standardized tests, unlike low-income students of color who may have gone to schools that were underfunded and left them less prepared for the challenges of the LSAT. And, because a good LSAT score is critical to getting into law school, low-income students of color are frequently prevented from obtaining a law school education too.
During my fall quarter this year, I took a sociology class about social inequality in which we focused a lot on class inequality in the United States. My professor gave a lecture discussing the differences in how children are raised based on their class status. My professor explained that children brought up in middle class families were better equipped to negotiate and navigate key institutions because these children had fostered more social networks, had more diverse childhood experiences, and had more language and conceptual skills. Children brought up in working class or poor families, however, did not have those same opportunities. When I heard this, it reminded me of the LSAT workshop where we discussed the disadvantages that low-income students of color face when preparing for and taking the exam. I realized that these class-based inequalities follow low-income students beyond grade school since we still face significant challenges getting into law school, and once there, students like me are also not prepared to be successful in those institutions simply because of our background. However, with the help of Law School Yes We Can and my mentors, I know that I will be prepared to take on law school and everything in between.
“Sí, Se Puede” is a phrase born of farmworkers, who, under the leadership of the UFW, César Chávez, and Dolores Huerta, fought valiantly for equal protection under the law. As a result of the efforts of the UFW, “Sí, Se Puede” has become well known as a call that engenders hope and inspiration in those who face similar battles. We thank the UFW, whom we acknowledge to be the sole and exclusive owner of the Trademark SI SE PUEDE, for granting us a limited license to use“Sí, Se Puede” in connection with our efforts to recruit, in Colorado, students of Hispanic or Latino descent for our law school pipeline program. For more information about the programs offered by the UFW, please see UFW’s webpage (www.ufw.org); UFW Foundation’s webpage (www.ufwfoundation.org); and UFWF’s immigration services webpage (www.sisepuede.org)